We’re back so let’s take a little skate around hockey and see what’s new.
The Sabres come to the Bell Centre tonight following a very emotional win over the Maple Leafs. Those Sabres-Leaf games in Buffalo are always loud affairs, with enemy fans invading the building and chanting whatever it is they chant.
But Patrick Kaleta got the Buffalo fans back on his team’s side with this hit and fight early in the contest (below) and the Leafs proceeded to self-destruct shortly after, with Colton Orr being assessed a triple minor for roughing (never saw that before) while the Sabres Mike Weber got only two minutes. The Sabres struck twice on the power play and cruised from there to a 3-1 win, only their second victory in the past five games.
Most importantly for Buffalo, Ryan Miller — who has been bothered by
various injuries this season — looked completely healed last night. He
shut out Toronto for 56-plus minutes and looked strong doing so, making
35 saves (31 in the final two periods) and playing very composed in the
net, like on this first period breakaway stop on speedy Phil Kessel (video).
The only goal he allowed was a shorthanded tally by Kessel that was set
up by Sabres d-man Jordan Leopold, who put a rebound of Kessel’s
original shot right back on Kessel’s stick (video). Can’t blame the goalie for that one.
Miller should be in goal tonight against the Habs.
Craig Rivet, who has
been in and out of the lineup for Buffalo, was out again last night and
could be scratched again tonight. After missing five games, he was back
in the lineup last weekend and was a minus-4, so coach Lindy Ruff put
Mike Weber in his spot. Rivet’s mobility has diminished and Weber, an
AHL All-Star last season, is pretty physical and can keep up with the
play. If coach Lindy Ruff sticks with last night’s lineup, Weber will partner with Shaone Morrisonn as Buffalo’s third defensive
unit behind Tyler Myers-Andrej
Sekera and Steve Montador-Jordan Leopold.
There are questions about Rivet remaining as captain of the Sabres, since he’s not playing much, but Ruff told reporters that he had no problem with the ex-Hab keeping the C for now because he’s still an excellent team leader and is working hard in practice. Rivet, himself, is wondering if his staying captain is in the best interests of the club.
Center Rob Niedermayer will be out for another week with a knee problem and center Tim Connolly
has missed the last two games with a groin injury.
Buffalo scored twice on the PP last night and was perfect on six Leaf PPs, but their special teams have not been very special on the season. They are 25th on the PP and 21st on the PK. Kaleta got their first shorthanded goal of the season last night.
The Sabres haven’t done very well in the second game of back to backs this season: They have two wins in seven games. The Habs have one win in three.
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Goldstein of CBS,com has a first quarter report card on the entire Eastern
Conference and the Canadiens are one of the A teams, alongside the Caps
and just behind the Flyers A+. Here’s what he writes: “The next time Carey Price tells people to chill out, no one will argue. Price has
silenced his critics — no easy task in Montreal — by playing
goal the way everyone thought he could and triggering Montreal’s
fast start. Jaroslav Halak has become a faded memory while Price has been the
story of the season for a team that seems determined to prove its
surprising playoff run last spring was not the fluke many believe.
Not exactly a thorough anaysis of why the Habs
fared so well in the early going, although Price has been their most
consistent player and arguably the most consistent goalie in the league.
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You’ve heard of trades for a player to be named
later, but here’s a story about a team that was named later.
night, the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders affiliate, played
the first half of a home-and-home series in Bridgeport against the
Hartford Wolfpack, the Rangers affiliate. They play the second half
tonight — but not against the Wolfpack but the Connecticut Whale.
Wha??? Yes, the team has been re-named and will be re-launched tonight.
fans old enough to recall the Adams Division and the Hartford Whalers
will be happy to learn that Howard Baldwin, who was the managing partner of the team during the WHA years and most of their NHL years, is back in control of pro hockey in that town. He rechristened the AHL club in honor of his old NHL team, sort of. There’s confusion about who owns the rights to the name Hartford Whalers and, wary of a lawsuit, Baldwin just called them the Whale.
He still hopes to return the Whalers to the NHL and in today’s New York Times, Thomas Kaplan has a good story about those efforts.
No word yet if the Whale will be using the old Whalers song “Brass Bonanza” after they score.
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Thanks to all you great HIO readers for being patient while I get settled at my new job writing the blog Red Light for Sport Illustrated’s website. Still trying to figure out how I’m going to do it all, but I’ll make every effort to post here at least a couple of times each week.